You’ll have noticed a weird hiccup in the blog last month. Well, it was the combination of a lot of things but mostly it led to some restructuring of the blog. Which also led to me thinking, “Hey, I got these three topics that I really want to delve into, but I don’t want to swamp the blog.” So I created three new sub-blogs, that are still part of the ArchyFantasies brand but are more focused in scope and a little different in tone.
This one was kind of a no-brainer. I’m watching a lot of this show for my thesis and I really started this to help me organize my thoughts. However, it’s a lot of fun to look at things from a different perspective. Currently, I’m comparing the first and second season to the current season, and well, there’s a lot of overlap. I’m also looking at other purveyors of the ancient alien sauce, just trying to this all this stuff together.
This one came about because I was traveling in the midwest a lot and that’s apparently Giant central. I figured people don’t know enough about the moundbuilder cultures so I might give it try. Dispelling giants solidified when I started watching the 2014 show Search for Lost Giants, and just…well I needed to blog about it.
This one I’m kinda excited about. I love the paranormal and the idea of paranormal objects fascinates me. This particular blog is about objects and sites, and how humans create and imbue them with meaning. I think the paranormal is the best way to look at this process. Paranormal sites and artifacts can be old or brand new, but they still hold meaning and understanding that, the creation process and the history of an object or sie, helps us understand our own relationships with history.
And of course, this blog and podcast will continue. Starting in January the podcast will be back on air and the blog will be updated bi-monthly.
I hope you’ll go check out the other blogs, and let those tied you over till next year. We’ve had a lot of change in 2019, we’re ready for 2020.
The intriguingly named Evil Archaeology by Heather Lynn Ph.D., was a book I was looking forward to. Who doesn’t like a nice spooky book on archaeology? So I happily paid $10 for it on Kindle and waited for its release, which kept getting pushed back. Finally, in April of this year, I got my copy, just in time for a very long train ride to Albuquerque.
Now, I read this on the train in about two days and took several notes at the time, and then a bunch of stuff blew up, and I had to put this review on the back burner.
However, with Halloween rolling around, and the month of October being my favorite spooky time of the year, I thought I’d dust this off again and give it a second go. My opinions haven’t changed, but fresh eyes did see a few more things about this book. Mainly how vague it is.
Lynn commits a major cardinal sin in my opinion and that is, she cites just about nothing in the book. When she does she’s using sources that are incredibly old, out of date, and not supported by modern sources. Yet she still speaks in an authoritative voice throughout, constantly flipping back and forth between being an Archaeologist and/or Historian. The Historian part I can almost understand, the Archaeologists though? She never displays that.
With the exception of occationaly saying “archaeologists think/found/theorize” she never addresses archaeology. There is none in this book, like, none. I think she just used the work Archaeology to put a buzzword in the title. There is no archaeological theory, methods, results, comparisons, or even just a run of the mill discussion. There’s precious few pictures of anything resembling an artifact and even those are not presented archaeologically.
Add to that, I can’t really tell what the overall premise of the book is. I think it’s Lynn trying to say demons and demonic possession are real, without hardcore saying she believes it. She constantly syas she’s a skeptic, and then clearly states biases and opinions that suggest she isn’t. Like when she says she isn’t religious, then outlines her religious upbringing in Catholicism, and then reduces every entity in the book to the catholic idea of “Demon”. I mean, sure, she may not currently be religious, but her opinions in this book are clearly informed by her catholic background.
And then there’s the constant shoe-horning of all things pagan into the category of “demon”. Lynn spends a good chunk fo the book ‘othering’ people and practices. She regales us with several over-the-top gory recountings of human sacrifice, none of which are cited or supported by archaeological evidence, and then turns around and makes Christianity sound so perfect and pristine in comparison. Need I point out to Lynn that the old testament is full of human sacrifice and Yahweh acting like a war and blood god, and let’s not even talk about the crucifixion.
Beyond all that is the way Lynn tries to Science-up the various ghost and horror stories written in the book. She briefly touches on the very controversial and sort-of defunct branch of archaeology called Cognitive Archaeology. I’ve done a breif amount of reaserch into this and really can’t find any mentios of it past the late 90’s early 00’s. It’s hey-day being in the 80’s and it seemed to lose favor fast as a field of archaeology, mainly because it’s untestable and relies heavily on the bises of the researcher…so it’s not really a science.
This isn’t an issue for Lynn apparently and she lumps it and ghost hunting together. She even claims that ghost hunting is scientific now because it uses electronic recording devices and sensors. Look, Data doesn’t make something science. Sure you get ‘readings’ from an EMF, but what does it mean? How is it being compared? Is there a chart that classifies different readings? and how do you know the space isn’t contaminated with electrical fields you’re not aware of, but that are perfectly normal? Most importantly, what’s the hypothesis the EMF is evaluating?
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good ghost hunt, but it’s not science.
All of this leads to the conclusion of the book where Lynn kinda admits that she thinks demons and possession are real, but not really. She does, however, leave us with a handy checklist for identifying a demon, and suggestions on how to obtain an exorcism in case you might think you’re possessed. Life hacks.
Oh yeah, and then there this one point where she tries to suggest that maybe Demons are really just advanced beings from somewhere else and their ‘magical’ powers are really just advanced technology. So basically they’re aliens.
This shouldn’t be too surprising when we find out that Lynn is a ‘historical consultant’ for the Ancient Aliens TV show.
Actually, once we know that, none of this is surprising. The vague language of the book, the lack of citation, the publisher…it’s a publicity stunt in book form.
I’m most disappointed that this book took a perfectly interesting topic and did a crap job of not even touching it. I feel like someone else needs to grab topic again, and write a much better book…oh wait…someone has.
Today we talk with Dr. Jane Draycott @JLDraycott and Andrew Reinhard @adreinhard about the epic game Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey. We discuss the overall gameplay, how AC uses historical references to create more vibrant gameplay, and if this even worked. We talk about the use of real archaeology and pseudoarchaeology in the game storyline, and how that affects the overall game’s enjoyability, or not.
Have I mentioned I’m doing my thesis lately? I feel like maybe I haven’t…
What this really is, is an excuse for is so that I can read all these books I have piling up in more depth. I’ve put them in some order, ish, and I’ve decided to share my thoughts with you all as I go.
I started with Lost Tribes & Sunken Continents; Myth and Method in the Study of American Indians by Robert Wauchope. I’m enjoying this book as it’s written openly and conversationally. Also, the little hints of 1960’s sexism amuse me. I think the most important aspects of this book are how everything is just on a cycle of rinse, later, repeat when it comes to the fringe and pseudoarchaeology — keeping in mind that my printing of the book is from 1962 – reading the stories and issues that Wauchope shares rings a familiar bell.
In the first few chapters, Wauchope talks about lost tribes and Lost cultures. He starts with the Maya and the exciting idea that some people in the late 1800’s had that the ancient Mayans actually traveled to Europe and thereby populated it. He focuses early on Augustus Le Plongeon the French amateur archaeologist from the late 19th century. The comparisons between Le Plongeon and modern-day writers like Graham Hancock, Eric fund and again, and Scott Wolter is probably more striking than it should be. The writers above directly reflect the fervent obsession that Le Plongeon shows to his theories. Even though their writing almost 150 years between each other.
I feel like Wauchope did an excellent job of pointing out the ideas and “theories” that Le Plongeon and his cohorts held and argued over. I will say that Roberts language at times is not what we consider polite anymore. Wauchope seems to take to the idea of combating pseudoarchaeology with ridicule and humor. He does, however, mention several times the damage that pseudoarchaeology goal claims like these can have. His words nearly verbatim what modern archaeologists say today. I suppose the significant difference between Wauchope writing in the 1960s and archaeologists writing about pseudoarchaeology today is that the damage of pseudoarchaeology the Wauchope was speculating could occur, as come to pass. We, the archaeologists of the 2020s, now have to deal with most of these ideas that Wauchope brings up, being mainstream “theories” that get more air time and media exposure than real archaeology could hope for, at least here in the Americas.
It is fascinating to me to know that someone was dropping warnings about the effects of pseudoarchaeology back in the 1960s. It’s not that pseudoarchaeology didn’t exist before this point; however, it is a little disheartening to know that we were being warned and not enough people listened.
It’s also good to see how Wauchope immediately takes the pseudoarchaeology topics he tackles in his book to task over their racism. He calls out to this particular trait in the first chapter of his concise book. The reason it’s so interesting to me is that the inherent racism of pseudo-archaeological claims is a major focus of debunking efforts these days. To see that it was being addressed 60 years ago kinda tells you something. It means archaeologists recognized the wrongness of the hyper-diffusionism idea of a parent race/culture early and were sensitive to the implications of such a claim.
It’s also interesting to see Wauchope talking about Le Plongeon and other not-yet-fringe archaeologists in the same way that archaeologists today talk about our own fringe and their ideas.
I guess the best way to put it is it’s like hearing a Justin Berber remake of a Queen song, then hearing his fans accuse Queen of ripping off Justin Berber. ( and if you don’t think that happened boy do I have a story for you). It’s a little surreal seeing something that you deal with on the daily, being talked about as a clear issue 60 years before your own interactions with the topic.
My other goal in reading this book is that I’m finally starting to understand where some of these pseudoarchaeology ideas originated like in the case of Le Plongeon and his theory of Mayan and Egyptian similarities.
Interestingly enough, Le Plongeon did not suggest that Egyptians came to the Americas, but rather that Mayans made it over to Egypt, thereby making American natives the culture bearers to the Egyptians. I find that to be an interesting twist to an old story, but then have to remind myself that Le Plongeon was among one of the first to start promoting such things.
Wauchope also hits on the concepts of lost tribes, Hebrew Indians, and both the sunken continents of Atlantis and Lemuria/Mu. I know Jeb has talked about the Mu stones more than once, and I’ll link those podcast episodes down below. Wauchope, however, talks about the origins of the idea of Lemuria/Mu. The purpose of this particular islands came into being not for any supernatural reason, but because an early German biologist, Ernst Jaekel, insisted that old world monkeys must’ve evolved on a now-vanished island in the Indian Ocean because otherwise the diversity of the lemur couldn’t be explained. Ernst was unfortunately wrong, and when presented with evidence showing such, he dropped that idea.
However the island of Lemuria/Mu lived on, and though it’s not as popular as Atlantis, even today, it’s still just as mysterious.
I am only about halfway through this book because it takes forever to read anything when you’re reading it for school. I am looking forward to the future topics in the book though, especially Chapter 8 titled “The Righteous and the Racists.”
I’m looking forward to seeing how little concepts and ideas in pseudoarchaeology have changed over the past 60 years. This, despite being continuously confronted by not only skeptics but professional archaeologists and scientists too.
Hey everyone, First, I want to thank everyone for the words of support over the last few months. We love our fans, and it’s been nice to have a bit of positive vibes in my in-box.
For those who aren’t in the loop, I don’t want to overwhelm you with too many details. I do want to explain some things.
Before April, I (Sara), began taking better care of my mental health, and it has been good for me. I encourage everyone to go and get your head checked. I began a medication regimen and though it’s been a huge help, it had a massive adjustment period. I apologize for the time away from the blog and podcast, but it just, unfortunately, was a casualty of getting back to a baseline.
Also around this time, we (my co-hosts and I) decided on some changes to the Archaeological Fantasies podcast format, which also affected the posting of episodes. It’s nothing bad I promise, it’s acutely very positive for both Ken and Jeb to be working on other projects. Unfortunately, it will cut into the time they have on the show. We wish them the best, and thank them for their contributions.
The podcast will continue to have all the pseudo goodness you’re accustomed to, but you may hear a few new voices from time to time talking about some expanded topics. As the fringe tries to science-up themselves, we’ll be taking them to task.
We are trying a few new things, including video reacts to TV shows and YouTube videos. We’ll also be trying a few more Curious Archaeology videos with Forensic Detective Inspector Bragnir. Also, look for my collaboration with Digital Hammurabi later this year to learn some basic history about the field of Archaeology.
Lastly, this is my final semester in my Masters’ degree, which means … THESIS TIME!!!!!
I will probably blog about what all I’m doing, mainly because my thesis is about pseudoarchaeology so it’s basically an excuse to create blog and podcast and video content. Woo.
So, to everyone out there reading this, Thanks again for all the support! You’re all rockstars in my book!
Well, I finished reading America Before by Graham Hancock.
I know there’s already been several reviews about this book, and I’ll be getting around to a much more in-depth one. (Because as I keep telling people, this is part of my thesis, and I may as well kill two birds with one stone). But if you followed along with my tweets as I’ve been reading this book, you’re probably aware of most of my thoughts at this point.
And yes I did finally get to the part about the psychic technology.
As stated earlier, my biggest issue with America Before and other books like it isn’t the idea about psychic lost civilizations that somehow could harness the ability to control the weather and predict space phenomenon but couldn’t somehow survive the Younger Dryas. My biggest issue about them is the subtle and inherent racism of the theories.
What’s most disconcerting though is that explaining why these ideas are racist, tends to be almost as difficult as bailing water with a sieve. The major reason for this seems to be that people don’t understand what is racism is. I’m pretty sure that is well outside the scope of this blog, but I refuse to let that stop me from pointing this crap out when I see it. Maybe it’ll stick and dawn on someone eventually.
I had a recent comment about my opinions on these issues with alternative history and alternative archaeology. It’s clear from the comment that for this person simply stating “I-am-not-a-racist” is enough to negate all inherent racism in the ides of Hancock’s major idea of a lost civilization that predates all Native Americans, and then cultivated “primitive” peoples to create the cultures and tribes in the Americas.
Which is not what I want to focus on here, really. That’s for my Thesis and is probably a whole chapter on its own.
What I really wanted to talk about is Uncertainty in Archaeology and how it’s different from the Certainty of PseudoArchaeology
Interestingly, Hancock is paying attention to some of the developing discoveries in archaeology.
He cites some fairly recent papers and attempts to follow the conversations that are going on around them. The problem is, he doesn’t have the context or the training in archaeological theory to understand the conversation that’s occurring. So all of these assumptions that he’s making are happening without the benefit of that knowledge.
Archaeology can take some small portion of the blame for this. Archaeology as a field is notorious about keeping things to itself, especially when it comes to developing theories and things we’re not 100% sure about yet. Archaeology as a field is incredibly cautious, we don’t like to put things out to the public that we are not completely sure are defendable or accurate.
It’s good science because we’re trying not to confuse people with too many ‘what-ifs’ and ‘maybes’. The problem here is is that being cautious is somehow seen as being wishy-washy, and too many people in today’s day and age want definitive answers, and they want them now.
This is where presenters and writers like Hancock come into play.
Throughout his book, Hancock constantly speculates about what he thinks his lost civilization would be like and they would look like culturally and scientifically. There are several places in the book where he straight says he will not try to defend these ideas of his or try to provide evidence. Then a few chapters later, the things that he speculated about in earlier chapters, he lays out in words that show that he has now moved these statements from speculation into solid facts without the benefit of defending them or trying to validate them with facts and evidence.
But because Hancock uses definitive language, and emotionally charged language at that, it feeds that need in a lot of people to have solid answers to questions. Solid answers that science is not willing to provide because we are taught to be cautious, we are taught to doubt, we are taught to follow the evidence when evidence is provided, and if there isn’t enough evidence we are taught to wait.
The contrast between this certainty and uncertainty is really where the conflict occurs.
Pseudoarchaeology is confident that it is correct, it is confident that it’s evidence points where it needs it to, it is confident that it has solved the mystery. Archaeology, by contrast, isn’t so confident, even when we know we have the evidence and it points one way or the other. We are still cautious about our language. We are unwilling to put definitive words down, because we know that with the presentation of new evidence that even our most solid theory can change. It’s why we put so much weight on evidence, and why we are so picky about what we will accept as evidence and why we argue with ourselves over what is the correct interpretation of the evidence.
We are cautious by nature because we have been taught to doubt, something pseudoarchaeology does not teach. Pseudoarchaeology tells you that if you see something and it looks a certain way to you, then that must be the Truth, and that all you have to do to prove the truth is find evidence that agrees with you. Pseudoarchaeology teaches you to ignore anything that is counter to the evidence that you need. This is not how science works.
You can call your ‘assumption’ a ‘hypothesis’ all you wish, it does not make it a hypothesis. If you are not applying the scientific method you are not working with a hypothesis, if your hypothesis cannot possibly be proven false, it is not a hypothesis.
Too often pseudoarchaeology presents an idea and call it a hypothesis. Then, as Hancock does several times in his own book, states that they are not going to attempt to provide evidence.
This is not science, this is not a hypothesis, this is not how the scientific method works.
It is unfortunate that this statement will upset a few people. It’s unfortunate that this statement makes people think I’m being exclusive. But we have standards in science. We have doubts at every step. We test everything, evaluate everything, and yes, we argue.
If all we were really doing is forming our own opinions based on our own observations, whether or not they are true or accurate, and then arguing with each other about who’s fantasy is better, we would not be doing science.
Someone left a comment on my last post, about how somehow Native American Oral traditions are “double reverse racism”.
Then there’s the double reverse racism of self-proclaimed experts who say “Archaeologists MUST listen to the Native American oral tradition”, the implication being that “the oral tradition” is perfect, accurate, and unchanging and further that “the oral tradition” of Native Americans currently living in Place X is relevant; to the archaeology being done. An easy counterexample it that the Cherokee oral tradition is not relevant to the Plains Indians. Other groups of Native Americans have moved around throughout history and the people who live in Place Y might have supplanted earlier inhabitants, who in turn supplanted even earlier inhabitants.
Second, The least archaeologists can do is listen to Native American oral traditions.
There is no “implication” that any oral tradition is perfect. Oral traditions are important not because of their perceived perfection, but because they are the history of a people.
As far as the second half of this, the relocation of the Cherokee is not a counterexample. The location of the various Cherokee tribes neither invalidates their oral traditions nor replaces the oral traditions of others. It actually makes these oral histories important because they are out of place.
I can tell from this example that the value of oral traditions in archaeology is not understood. Which really only compounds with the problems created when the Fringe uses Native American Myth to support their ideas and biases.
They’re not entirely sure when something is racist, or why archaeologists call them out on it constantly, but they know it’s a thing that exists and it’s probably bad.
Why do I say this? The two most visible personalities in alternative archaeology/history right at this moment are probably Scott Wolter and Graham Hancock. As many know, I watch and read their shows/book and review them critically. It’s actually part of my thesis, so I guess they both get what they claim they ultimately want, recognition by the academic community. Just not the way they wanted.
To be clear I am not calling Wolter or Hancock (or anyone here) a Racist. What I am saying is the things they write/say/do are racist, probably unintentional, and need to be examined and criticized.
Both Wolter and Hancock have had their claims about archaeology/history critiqued and the racist parts pointed out to them over the years. I’ve watched both men develop their ideas, reacting to the criticism. Of course, there is the initial outrage (“I’m not Racist!”), who wants to be called a racist? But then, both of them tried to adapt their theories to make them less racist, and both have completely missed the point.
I’ve watched both carefully police their language over the years to not mention color or nationality as much as possible. But the mentioning of Blacks or Whites isn’t what makes what they say and sell racist. It’s the implications of what they’re trying to push as correct history. Both men have an idea about how culture got to and developed in America. Granted Hancock’s is a little more world-encompassing, but it’s still the basic, “Super Father Culture brings civilization to lesser people, mostly non-whites.”
For Wolter, it’s his strange Celtic-Viking-Templars, for Hancock it’s his psychic lost civilization of all-gods. It doesn’t matter who they are though, because the idea is the same, this mysterious group came to America and bequeathed all culture and society to the unfortunate clueless people already here, who then worshiped them as gods/heroes. Both theories completely ignore or erase native accomplishments and reassign them to the father race. And if you don’t see the issue there, we need to talk.
What’s been most interesting to me over the years is watching these two, and others like them, try to correct for the racism of their ideas, without changing their actual ideas. They think just changing the words they use will erase the implications, but miss the greater issues with their arguments. Then, when called out on it, they both do what can generously be called Virtue Signaling to try and show that *they* aren’t racist themselves.
The thing that struck me the other day reading Hancock once again get upset over his misconceptions of Native American and Archaeologist relations (there are issues, just not the ones he’s on about), is that they don’t see or understand their own racism. We can point it out to them all day, it won’t matter. Neither man thinks they are capable of being racist. Wolter even goes as far as to do the whole “I have Native American Friends” thing and Hancock just constantly tells us how angry he is for Native Americans (then dismisses their whole history in a handwave).
I don’t doubt that Wolter has friends in various tribes, or that Hancock is really upset. But that isn’t a pass to then turn around, treat all Native Americas as one amorphous group of people, or break them down into “advanced” and “primitive” societies based on arbitrary traits that really just reflect how little either man understands about archaeology and culture.
The only good thing about this is that it opens up the discussion of racism in and around archaeology. Archaeology and anthropology have very dark origins and history. It’s ugly sometimes, and those of us in the field not only learn about this, we’re taught to counter it as much as we can. The sad truth is, we’re still very white, male-dominated, eurocentric fields.
Are things getting better? Yes, definitely. Could they be a whole lot better than they are, Absolutely!
Reading Hancock and watching Wolter, as frustrating as it is, opened my eyes to the reality that is both the public perception of archaeology and reminds me of the issues we still have to correct for in our own field. It also reminds me that we as professionals can’t have these discussions in the dark, away from public eyes. That’s how we got here in the first place, checking out of public discourse and letting pseudoarchaeology take control.
We need to take our narrative back, we need to be real, and we need to counter things when we see them.
Now I’ll get off my high horse and go get ready to watch Wolter tell me how the Phoenicians were the first Europeans in America.
A lot of them kinda fall into the category of repeat things. “Have you seen X? What about Y lost civ? I found Z, is it real?” and “XYZ religion believes this thing, is it true?”
There’s always outsiders, but these are the categories for the most part. Normally I have seen/hear/read something about most mainstream fringe topics (didn’t think you’d see that phrase eh?) But every now and then I get something I haven’t, and I have to look into it.
The most challenging questions are the religious ones. I just want people to understand, you can’t debunk religious (or really any) beliefs. I can’t tell you that your connection with ‘god’ or whatever isn’t valid. You wanna commune with nature, go for it. Honestly, as long as you’re not hurting anyone/anything or breaking major laws, I really don’t care what you believe.
What I do get testy about though is the use of archaeology and science to try and ‘prove’ religion. When I was first starting off as a YouTube channel, all them years ago y’all, I would constantly get pushback to my videos by Creationists, and well Mormons who wanted to use archaeology to either prove the earth isn’t as old as science says it is, or wanted to prove that there were advanced (white) Indians (Lost Tribes of Israel) in ancient America.
There are lots of problems with these claims, and I do question the purpose of such religious beliefs, but my point is, once you start to drag reality and facts into the discussion, you better bring evidence to back it up.
I’ve recently began looking over a new-ish religion using imagery of the Sacred Sun as an ancient, all-encompassing father cult that predates all other religions, and therefore spawned all other religions. They draw heavily from writers like Graham Hancock and his constant attempts to connect all ancient site together.
There’s a lot of underlying issues that are social and cultural in nature here, but the ones I really want to drive home is, there’s no archaeology to support such claims. In all reality, archaeology documents that cultures developed independently of each other, and connected with each other via trade, marriage, warfare, and diplomacy. Yes, we can see cultural traits passed down and adopted by others, but again, this only supports the idea of independence. Adapt, teach, learn. I harped on that in the last post.
Most importantly, we don’t see unifying cultural traits that we would expect to see if all religions/cultures were connected and decent from one super group. Seeing similarities between one group or another (the Maya and Egyptians for example) is often in the eye of the beholder and usually doesn’t stand up to close scrutiny.
Does this invalidate personal religious beliefs? No. Personal religious beliefs are personal. Does that make them good/right/virtuous? Again, up to the person/society, you’re in. Do I have to believe what someone else does? Hell no. Do I have to put up with it? Often times yes.
But when said group wants to try and drag archaeology into their beliefs and use it to further/support their beliefs (I’m looking at you Ancient Aliens and Hancock), you’ve moved out of the realm of Personal and into the realm of Facts. I can meet you there, you can show me your evidence and we can discuss it, and If you’re making some weird ass claim about super races and father cultures, it’s not going to be a fun meeting for you.
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I think many people who interact with pseudoarchaeology have similar origin stories. We all come to archaeology through a lense of curiosity, that was kindle in some part by the pseudo-information that was out there when we were growing up. I’ve spoken about my roots in role-play, especially D&D, but I also had a decent steeping in the Norse religious revival in the US.
I once dreamed of learning Old Norse and translating mysterious Runic scripts and learning the secrets of the old ways. Archaeology changed that for me. I went into archaeology as an extension of my fantasy rich image of the past and came out with a much different, yet far more interesting view.
I learned that magic, as cool as it seems, was unnecessary for peoples of the past. They had something much better, they had knowledge and ability. It’s what makes the human species so successful, our ability to adapt, teach, and learn. It’s also how we keep progressing from one cultural achievement to another. Adapt, teach, learn.
Got a new way to chip stone to make tools? Adapt, teach, learn.
Got a new way to make pottery that makes it more desirible somehow? Adapt, teach, learn.
Got a new cultural norm that benefits the population somehow? Adapt, teach, learn.
Logically these don’t always have to be beneficial, we can all probably think of things that weren’t that became issues in the past…lead for example. But the reality is, even those things were improvements of some kind at some point.
What else that’s important to keep in mind is, all of these adaptations, however simple they look to us today, were pretty important in their time. Some even revolutionary.
It’s these two basic principles of the past that get lost by the Fringe. They want to classify things as ‘primitive’ and ‘advanced’ when it’s really more of a “do we need this?” situation.
Take for example stone tools. Both Graham Hancock and Scott Wolter will waffle back and forth on whether or not these tools are ‘advanced’ or not. Depending on the narrative they’re building, the stone tools can be an example of how advanced a group is in their opinion, or how far behind they are compared to another group. This isn’t really how any of that works.
To put it simply, very simply, human beings really only change when there is a need to do so. Then they adapt, teach, learn. Why didn’t the early Native Americans have metal weapons like some contemporary European cultures? They didn’t need them, stone worked just fine.
Even within the states and various early Native cultures, we see this same process. Get out to the East coast before a certain time period and you won’t find a lot of Native pottery. Why? Because they had soapstone and they worked that into vessels. Other groups knew how to weave fiber or treat skin to make cooking and storage vessels. So they solved their problems in different ways and stuck with these techniques until they either needed a better one and adapted it, or they encountered a better way of doing things and adopted it. Adapt, teach, learn.
The dangerous error here though is considering one technique or cultural trait superior to another. Even Blue Nelson in the recent America’s Lost Vikings made the mistake of comparing ‘primitive’ stone tools to the more ‘advanced’ iron tools of the Vikings. That’s not how that is, one is not ‘better’ than the other unless you’re talking about how it works in the context of the culture it’s being used in. (And if you really want to get into Theory discussions, I can recommend some books…) As I said then, and I stand by it now, Nelson, as a trained archaeologist, should know better than to make that comparison.
Wolter and Hancock, they don’t have the benefit of being taught to step outside their own Eurocentric worldview to try to consider things from another cultural group’s viewpoint. It’s also why things like stone stools, megaliths, and earthworks seem like magic to them. They don’t understand how a ‘primitive’ group of people could have conceived of and then built such things. Then at the same time, they want to compare each group to each other, usually ignoring time-lines, culture change, and distance, and they want to rank all these groups as ‘primitive’ and ‘advanced’ judging those with more recognizable and understandable technology as being superior.
Then when they learn about something they consider ‘advanced’ being done by a group they think is ‘primitive’, they usually begin fantasizing about vastly more ‘advanced’ lost civilizations that must have given that advanced technology to the primitive people. It’s predictable to the point where you can watch or read just a little of either man’s argument, and know where they’re going with it. Yeah, I can dress it up by breaking down the absurdity of it “Australian Denisovans in South America,” or “Celtic Norse Templar Freemasons in Ancient America,” but it all comes down to, each man has picked their mysterious advanced culture group, and then sends them to bequeath technology and culture on the less advanced, usually Native Americas.
What’s most telling though is neither man sees issues with this. This is the only way they can conceive of a ‘primitive’ group of people learning to do ‘advanced’ things (both are arbitrary concepts btw). So they spend hours and pages trying to bend and stretch archaeology and history to match their narrative.
Eventually, though, even that has to break. I’m here to tell you, as I’m sure many other archaeologists will, that early Native people didn’t need to have culture and technology bequeathed on them from some supper group. They were quite capable themselves and managed to not only survive but thrive.
Adapt, teach, learn.
That’s how you got here.
Adapt, teach, learn.
Because ancient people didn’t die out.
Adapt, teach, learn.
And just because you can’t understand today how they did things in the past,
Adapt, teach, learn.
doesn’t mean Lost Civilizations or Aliens exist.
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